Friday, April 30, 2004


A group known as the Middletown Conservancy is leading the drive to restore the R3 Media/Elwyn line all the way back to West Chester, according to the Delaware County Daily Times.

"There are good economic reasons for refurbishing the whole line now," said Susan C. Graham, a township resident who is treasurer of the 24-year-old environmental organization. "It is not economically feasible, nor is it practical, to continue widening roadways to accommodate an ever-increasing number of automobiles," she said. Daily Times

Support for R3 restoration to West Chester was (in theory) boosted by a 2000 report that estimated an additional 3,000 riders per year if the service were restored all the way to West Chester. The current SEPTA capital budget proposes restoring R3 service as far west as Wawa, near US 1.

You can certainly imagine how happy students at West Chester and Cheyney University would be if there was a direct rail link to and from Center City which doesn't involved taking an often unreliable bus (the 104) and transferring to the El at 69 St Terminal. There's also a sizable number of WCU students who live in Delaware County that are presumably close enough the existing R3 line. It's not as though there wouldn't be a market for the expansion, right?

Ah, but leave it to SEPTA's Ministry of Mis-Information Richard Maloney to poke holes through such a dream...

Maloney said the R3 in terms of ridership "... is second only to the R5 which goes through the Main Line.

"So it is a very popular line," he said. "In terms of its return on investment in service, it doesn't make a profit - none of these lines do." No such commuter line in the country is profitable; "they all have to be subsidized.

"We know that there's a lot of interest in extending the line from Elwyn to West Chester," Maloney said. "But at the moment at least, it's not in our formal long-term plan." A feasibility study would have to be done first for an extension to West Chester to determine what the potential ridership would be, he said.
Daily Times

Right. Elwyn/Wawa-to-West Chester, which has most of it's infrastructure in place - the tracks are operable, while the catenary structure is in place, if not in operable condition - is not in the long-term plan, but restoring service between Fox Chase and "the other" Newtown is, despite most of the tracks being removed and reports of right-of-way breaches along the line. Maybe West Chester should declare itself part of Bucks or Montgomery Counties. That's probably the only way rail service will come back to the only county seat in the Philadelphia suburbs without adequate rail access OR an adequate connection to the Regional Rail system (and, please, don't tell me that the 104/El combination is adequate).

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